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GPs could be forced to switch IT systems under new NHS Digital contract

GP practices may have to switch systems as NHS Digital embarks on a re-tendering process for patient record IT providers.

NHS Digital will launch a tender for a new panel of system providers in January, with the intention to have the new framework in place next summer.

But, in order to secure a spot on the panel, providers will need to show they can provide record systems for 'multi-disciplinary settings', and NHS Digital said this 'may or may not' be the systems currently used by practices.

Under the current GP Systems of Choice framework, which expires at the end of this year, practices can choose to use TPP SystmOne, EMIS Web, InPS Vision or Microtest Evolution.

GP leaders warned that attempts to overhaul GP IT systems 'will be a huge undertaking' and urged NHS Digital to 'carefully consider the potential impact on practices'.

The current framework, which has been extended several times, has been in place since 2007.

All providers can bid to remain on the updated framework, however NHS Digital said they could lose their spot if they failed or refused to meet 'new requirements'. 

NHS Digital said the new Digital Care Services framework, worth £450m, aims to support ‘integrated care organisations’. 

According to the prior information notice for the tender process, providers on the framework will be expected to provide ‘patient record systems for multi-disciplinary settings', which 'may or may not be general practice (GP) systems as currently accessed within the UK market’. 

Martin Warden, NHS Digital’s director of digital transformation in general practice, said: ‘This is a step-change towards ensuring the continued relevance and resilience of primary care IT systems to meet evolving NHS needs.

‘The new framework will improve access to GP data for patients and the NHS, as well as enabling digitised workflows in and between care settings to support better patient care.'

He added that it will also ‘provide local organisations and other buyers with more choice through an online catalogue service’.

Dr Farah Jameel, BMA GP Committee executive team IT lead, said: 'Any attempt to completely overhaul GP IT systems will be a huge undertaking, and those responsible must carefully consider the potential impact on practices and patients.

'GPs and their teams must be fully consulted on these plans to ensure that they are rolled out with minimal disruption and the best interests of patients and practices as a priority.'

Requirements for NHS Digital's new IT systems framework

  • Patient record systems for multi-disciplinary settings, which ‘may or may not be GP systems as currently accessed within the UK market’
  • GP systems ‘designed around the operation of a traditional general practice’
  • Digital services ‘integrating into the clinical desktop, such as document management, clinical decision support [and] e-Consultation’
  • Digital support services ‘supporting integrated service delivery’
  • Patient facing services including ‘appointment or practice communication apps’.

Source: NHS Digital

Readers' comments (19)

  • Just like to point out that each GP practice will need to have a DSA with each provider that wishes to interact with their system

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  • so which systems are at risk? can pulse journalists do some digging and come up with more information please.....

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  • AlanAlmond

    GPs are independant contractors? What utter nonsense that is. There isn’t any aspect of a GPs working life that isn’t directly micromanaged by some tosser in government. This kind of centralisation is why the communist Soviet Union died. The governments obsession with centralisation, standardisation is pathological. Squashing any chance of diversity, grass roots innovation or independence of thought. The “one shoe must fit everybody” approach will only give one result - lots of sore toes, no one walking anywhere and money wasted on plasters and podiatrist fees.

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  • iIndependent Contractor status vanished years ago. We are just left with the grin.

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  • NHS England could be forced to find a replacement for me if they try to force me to change my clinical system

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  • What are the conflicts of interest here and why isn’t there full disclosure? How much does each system cost upfront and after set-up. Why need to change the current IT systems? Everything in the NHS is murky and under the table. Jobs for the boys and corruption. No transparency. That’s why GPS are quitting.

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  • I would like to know how are on the boards or have shared in these companies

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  • This strikes me as being like President Kennedy's speech announcing the plans to send a man to the moon... though in this case, not by the end of the following decade, but by next Tuesday.

    Writing a GP IT application is a HUGE task; to get it right for many different healthcare settings in such a way that it will work seamlessly in all of them is almost impossibly complicated; and to agree that it will need to be done by summer next year (or at least have the basics in place) is ridiculous to the point of stupidity, because who knows what software glitches will be left lying around in the rush to meet the new deadline?

    Yes, by all means have targets - but above all they must be reasonable. Reworking the whole of GPSoC in under a year doesn't strike me as anywhere near a reasonable timescale. Remember, we've already spent over a generation getting GP IT to its current position; suddenly including a huge step-change isn't likely to safely create the improvements its proponents hope for. Indeed, it may well turn out to be like another project from the sixties - Chairman Mao's 'great leap forward' - which was supposed to be a leap forward overnight, but instead took the Chinese people back ten years and killed millions of them.

    Progress in complex medical IT will never come about by introducing rushed objectives: instead, we still need objectives and standards, applied firmly and decisively... but introduced slowly and carefully, with constant assessment and re-assessment, and certainly not in a rushed manner.

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  • As an retired GP, has anybody considered whether information given in confidence by a patient to their trusted GP, would want to have it shared to all and sundry?

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  • NHS and IT systems, nor worries there then!!!!
    Overspent and not fit for purpose I bet.

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